Ooka Island Adventure is a downloadable game that teaches reading from the ground up. Ooka Island is a game, but it's also more than a game. Your child can choose to either "read" or "play" at the beginning of each login. The reading selection has three sub-choices that move your child toward reading independence: reading with Zobot and Auntie Kay, reading with Zobot, or reading alone. Reading with Zobot and Auntie Kay has Auntie Kay read the story with explanations of the pictures, perfect for a child not yet familiar with books. Reading with Zobot has Zobot reading the story while each word she reads is highlighted, similar to when you point at words on the page of a book as you read them. Finally, your child can read on their own. I did see under options that you can add a microphone, but I'm not sure whether any feedback will be given to your child if they mis-read or mis-pronounce a word. This could be a potential drawback compared to reading a real book to your child.
The game part of Ooka Island Adventure has your child moving around the island learning to read as he plays different mini-games. The Ooka method of teaching reading was developed by Dr. Kay MacPhee, creator of the award-winning SpellRead reading intervention program. The Ooka method used in the game "speeds [kids] through the foundational levels of reading development and beyond." While Ooka Island claims to target kids age pre-K through 2nd grade, I would qualify that. If you want your pre-schooler to work independently then they should be pretty computer saavy. If you want your first or second grader to remain engaged then they should either be brand new readers or you should contact Ooka technical support and ask them to start your child's game on a higher reading level.
This is a great game for a child who is just learning his letter sounds, but not yet reading. I had trouble keeping my 5 year old son who is reading on a late first grade level engaged, though. My understanding is that by contacting Ooka Island technical support, they can override the beginning game sequences and have your child start the game at a higher reading level. I did not do that. It would be ideal if the parent could select their child's reading level prior to beginning the game. Whenever I played with my son, we kept getting trapped in the cave of sounds. This was like torture for both of us! I never could get to the lighthouse (control center)! My 5 year old son was also not really able to navigate the game by himself. If I have to sit at his elbow, I would rather just read him a book, but maybe that's just me. I do love books.
One more warning. Ooka Island has great graphics, but that comes at a price- it's a HUGE download. I mean like 2 Gigs huge. I do not have a nice, new computer. Our system is at least five years old and wasn't the top of the line when we bought it. It took a couple of hours to download onto our machine and I'm a little concerned about a crash.
If you 've got a decent computer and a child who is just learning to read, Ooka Island Adventure would be a great buy for your family! You can purchase Ooka Island for download here. See pricing below:
Right now Ooka Island is available at a discount when you use the promo code below!
Please check out some other TOS crew member reviews of Ooka Island. I think this would have been a bigger hit at our house if my 5 year old weren't such a strong reader already.
Disclaimer: I received a 6 month subscription to Ooka Island Adventure in exchange for an honest review.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.